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Funny what brings back a memory:

It was spring of '68 and it was my turn at the mail run down south to Phuc Cat AFB. I grabbed the morning re-supply chopper by to the LZ and from there I thumbed a ride over to LZ English where the C 130's had a landing strip. Took the first thing hot and smokin and south bound for Phuc Cat. Thumbed a ride with an AF guy in a AC cabbed truck to AnKe. I didn't want to sit up front as it had been well over a month since soap and water had passed over my body but he insisted.

We chatted with him asking a 1000 questions of a dogface like me. He said he had a brother who was a Navy Seabee and ran the NCO club at the Seabee base out side of Quang Tre and I needed to look him up. He also said to stop by his shop on the way back and he would get me some fresh clothes and boots and I could spend the night in the NCO barracks. I looked him up later that day and got some clothes, boots and since it was Wed night it was all you could eat steak over at the NCO club. Hot shower, sleeping under AC and flushing wall urinals made my day and made my night. 

Couple of weeks later I got a msg saying that wanted me and my rig down in Hue City so I headed out. I drove rather than taking a C 130 knowing that I had to pass thru Quang Tre en-route and that brother at the NCO club sounded like a good idea. I swung thru LZ English and got a new radiator for my Jeep to replace the leaky one then swung south on Hwy 1 to stop off at the Seabee base.

I found the NCO and hooked up the brother of the AF guy I had met down south. He apologized for the mess and lack of booze but the club had taken a direct hit early that morning from some mortar rounds and it blew the liquor storage to pieces and the motor for the refrigerator.

I said so what have got? He said Sloe Gin and Old Crow. Well pour me up an Old Crow. Hot Old Crow tastes even hotter and worse than it sounds. Two of us made up a team and I had a almost new guy with me. He had ordered a Sloe Gin, which he said, was way to sweet. We thought for a moment and both of us ordered a 'Sloe Crow', half Old Crow, half Sloe Gin. That tasted worse but by then the effect of hot whiskey was beginning to be felt. More than a few 'Sloe Crows" later we staggered over to the NCO barracks and slept like rocks.

We got up when the Seabees did and that was well before dawn, we weren't just hung over but still wobbly from the night before. We headed to the mess and ate like kings; those Navy guys are fed well! It was just cracking dawn and we decided to head on out for Hue City and hook up with the arriving combat unit.

We headed out the gate; headlights still on and dawn cracking to our East. Hwy 1 would take us thru Quang Tre and on South to Hue City. In a short time the sun was up and we entered QT. I tell my guy that it sure seems strange that there is almost no one on the streets and few of the street shops are even open...must be some kind of Vietnam holiday. We pass thru the heart of the city and get out into the 'burbs when we come up on uniformed soldiers heading down the road.

I am driving and being no traffic I begin to go around. Suddenly they look at me and I look at them...I mention that they don't look like ARVN (Army Republic of Vietnam) uniforms. By now the leadership of the group of soldiers has noticed and I can only imagine what that conversation must have been like...something along the lines of: If they look like an American and drives an American Jeep and they are carrying M-16's then Holy Friggin Ho Chi Men shoot them they are the enemy.

I suspect that we all came to the same conclusion about the same time. The good news was that by then there were (what I later found out was NVA, North Vietnam Army) uniformed soldiers on both sides of the road and everywhere. This was good because it keep the bad guys from shooting at us lest they shoot their buddy's.

My right foot nearly jammed the go pedal thru the floorboard and my left hit clutch and right hand begin a short search for some lower gears. We are balls to the wall when the shots rang out. My guy was fumbling for his M 16 when I screamed at him to get behind the M 60 machine gun on the pedestal mount behind him.

I am driving the Jeep like Jimmy Johnson going thru the straight away at Daytona Beach only I am trying to dodge bullets instead of cars. I have the windshield down so I am checking the side view mirrors when the drivers’ side mirror explodes on me by being taken out by a stray AK 47 round.

By now my guy has got behind the M 60 and its locked and loaded. I see the hwy up ahead makes a curve and the bad news it just past that curve is people and they are carrying guns...what the hell are we gonna do now I am thinking.

I scream for him to shoot toward the curve and hang the fuck on cause we are going the drive thru window. There are huts to the left of the curve, which bends to the right. The M 60 shell casings are going everywhere and I now got one that has found its way between my flak jacket and my back...I think I have been shot but I am still in control as the Jeep hits a ditch and leaps almost over a fence which I take out quite nicely.

I am downshifting and heading to the backside of the first hut when I notice what appears to be a concrete trough for the pigs the farmer is keeping behind his house. I snatch the steering wheel to the right and clip the backside of the thatched hut. Suddenly we find ourselves in what appears to be the chicken roost wing of the house and chicken are moving quicker than if they had seen a KFC truck heading their way. The outer wall is centered on the hood of my Jeep when I spy more obstacles and fence in my way. I steer more to the right thinking that daylight is on the other side of the chicken coop.

As the wall opens up in front of me I take note that I seem to be interrupting a family breakfast and I don't see any bowls of rice set out for us. They are running, jumping and diving as if some guys in a Jeep are driving thru the house. As the blue sky opens up in front as we are passing thru the kitchen wall I see we have not escaped the NVA welcoming committee which are running like mad men to come greet us.

Not having time for idle chitchat I turn hard left and tell my guy who is no longer shooting to start. He is doing his best to separate himself and M 60 from the remains of the straw walls and it sounds like he is fighting with a chicken. The left turn got me between 2 huts and I grab 2nd gear and go hard right to run behind them. No more concrete looking pig trough but no shortage of pigs as I clip one on the ass and I suddenly think maybe we should hold on to the chicken for some ham and eggs later we if survive this.

Pigs are running in every direction, my tires are churning up a combo of mud and pig sheet as I am passing the backside of a row of huts. I look up ahead and quickly see that the other sides of a plowed field are rice paddies. I know that when I get past the huts I will have to turn right back to the hwy and we will just take out chances. Maybe by then the NVA will have thought we were only crazy Americans and not worth shooting anyhow.

I swing past the last hut with my ties gnawing and trying to get a grip in the pig crap and I tell my guy to open up. I see that I can swing wide left and run the edge of the plowed field right back to the hwy and at the moment I don't see any bad guys. The ground is soft which aids the Jeep in staying planted on ground more often than in the air. I hit third and let the hammer down hard. I grab my M 16 from its position lying between the seats and flip it from safe to full 'rock 'n roll'. I fire off a clip just to add to the M 60 firepower and as my weapon ejects the last spent round we hit the ditch and go hard left.

I drop my M 16 back between the seats, grab 2nd gear like I am snatching candy from a baby as I wind out the 4 popper to near valve float and slide it into 3rd then 4th. Straw, chicken feathers, rice and pig crap is flying out of and off of the Jeep as we are burning road.

In a short time we are on the outskirts of Hue City and come upon enough firepower and American soldiers to start a war. As we pull up to the barricades I see more white faces with jaws stuck to their chests than I have ever seen in my life. Suddenly a Captain appears and he has a company-sized force augmented with 2 tanks. His jaw is dropped and eyes are bulged out like Jackie Gleason in a Honeymooners skit.

Captain Ratchett asks where in the hell have we come from? I tell him we left out of the Seabees compound at first light and drove down here. He asked if we were alone? Sure I said and he then asks if we encountered any enemy forces. I said well there were these guys on the south side of QT but other than that it was an uneventful trip. I told him I need to find 1st Brigade HQ S3 shop for assignment to one of the Infantry outfits, most likely 1/12th as I had worked with them before.

He told me where to find them and I saluted and started to head out. He said, one more thing, what in the hell is all this straw and chicken feathers and what is that stinks so badly? As I pulled away I said, well I missed the drive thru window and you know how that goes…

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